Peacempire establishes a legacy of fighting child marriages

By Rakibul Hasan
Peacempire,
an initiative to scale down Early Marriage, undertook major activities among 2805 adolescents, youths and adults, mostly aged 13 to 25 years, who represent over 32 villages in the district of Narayanganj, Bangladesh.
We have surpassed the targets we set. Until January, we trained a number of 162 Community Reporters, 149 Young Advocates, 63 Peer Educators and 2431 Campaigners, in workshops and campaigns, conducted between early weeks of October 2016 and the mid winter of January 2017.
Earlier we formed a popular coalition of citizens—teachers, professionals, physicians, journalists, administrators, priests, politicians, victims and people of all walks of lives to successfully implement this project.

Peacempire project has advanced through 04 major activities—workshop, campaigns, documentations and forming SRHR coalition to reduce the rate of Early Forced Marriage and Violence against Women into the rate of 30% involving adolescents and youths, aged 12 to 25 in the underprivileged areas of Rupganj subdistrict, Bangladesh. The coalition brings together SRHR experts, traditional leaders, political quarters, administrative bodies and victims in monthly social campaigns.Thus it equips Popular Opponents with capacity to effectively respond to Child Marriage and Gender Vioelnce through citizen journalism and digital media facilities, i.e. common cellphone hotline, social media outlets etc ensuring legal interventions and public engagements in the villages.

On the second phase, the Peacempire project has advanced through 04 major activities—workshop, campaigns, documentations and forming SRHR coalition to reduce the rate of Early Forced Marriage and Violence against Women into the rate of 30% involving adolescents and youths, aged 12 to 25 in the underprivileged areas of Rupganj subdistrict, Bangladesh. The coalition brings together SRHR experts, traditional leaders, political quarters, administrative bodies and victims in monthly social campaigns.Thus it equips Popular Opponents with capacity to effectively respond to Child Marriage and Gender Vioelnce through citizen journalism and digital media facilities, i.e. common cellphone hotline, social media outlets etc ensuring legal interventions and public engagements in the villages.

The workshops include the following sessions— Icebreaking Session (i.e. Name Aerobics, Birth Map etc), Expert Lecture, Case Studies, Storytelling, Solidarity Session, Training Materials, Assignments, Group Works, Competitions (i.e. Oratory, Essay, Drama, Drawing etc), Award Ceremony, Club Launching, Video Clip Show and Refreshments.
From the very beginning, we have plans in details to make the sessions as creative and spontaneous we can through engaging the maximum number of participants in activities. We considered to prioritize as a group of girls from Rupshi New Model School remarked, “we are suspicious for a long about reports and researches done about us, so we request everyone to listen to us before anyone writes ‘anything’ about us, because there is nothing about girls, without girls”. Therefore, we ensure that students get to speak up for what they are not being heard quite a long time.
At the beginning of the day, the final or third campaign, bringing together around 563 students in an assembly happened in the most conservative religious school raising unprecedented voices against child marriage and gender violence, which is so far an astonishing achievement in the project.
However, the campaigns included both infield and online activism. Offline activism included 01 rally, 01 assembly and 01 roadshow, 02 hand imprints, 10 street interviews, 1103 petition signatures, 01 drama, mimes etc. On the other hand, digital activism in form of website is undewway to establish common cellphone hotline, social media outlets, producing documentarie/short films, blogging, storytelling, reporting and creating apps are now available in the Peacempire website soon before deadline of February 15, 2017.

Fourth is building coalition and forming club. The multi-actoral coalition included 10 SRHR experts/practitioners, 22 religious leaders, 12 traditional leaders, 06 policy makers, 30 local media workers/journalists, political quarters, administrative bodies and victims. The project is little under perforing in this phase.

On the other hand, the club consists of “Popular Opponents” of all 04 categories. With regular followups, the club members are being further trained up to write, blog and help make video documentaries for the website and other social media channels.

In total, we have trained and engaged 162 Community Reporters, 149 Young Advocates, 63 Peer Educators and 2431 Campaigners from all 06 workshops and 03 campaigns conducted between early weeks of October 2016 and the mid winter of January 2017. They indirectly benefited, we mean they disseminated what they learned among 233 peers in their institutions.